Skip to main content

Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

CONSTITUTION  OF FLORENCE.                       91
our pages.* In the dialogue the aged Bernardo del Nero
speaks thus : " It would give us little trouble to express in
brief what was the nature of the Medicean state, for the
truth of what Piero Guicciardini said cannot be denied, that
it was a state usurped by means of faction and with force.
Or rather, it is necessary to confess that which, through be-
coming reserve, perhaps he was not willing to express, that
it was a tyrannical state ; and although the city retained the
name, the show and the image of being free, they had control
and were masters, since the magistracies were given to whom
they pleased, and those who held them obeyed their beck.
It is true, and this 1 know that you will not deny, that their
tyrannical rule, compared with that of others, has been mild ;
for they were not cruel and bloody, nor rapacious, nor vio-
lators of female chastity nor of the honor of other men*
They were desirous and eager to augment the power of the
city, and did much good and little ill save what they were led
into by necessity. They wished to be masters of the state,
but with all the respect for civil order that was possible, and
with humanity and moderation. This they did principally
from their own natural impulses, for it cannot be denied that
they were of good blood and of noble mind. Cosimo and
Lorenxo, being prudent, and having around them always a
number of wise counsellors from among the citizens, under-
stood that, taking the nature of their government and the
condition of the city into view, they could scarcely govern
otherwise, and that every means they might have used of
bringing matters under the control of greater violence and of
blood,—as we see the course to have been in Perugia and
Bologna—would at Florence have destroyed rather than in-
creased their grandeur/'
This mild judgment is followed by Picro Capponi's less mild,
but not harsh indictments against them, especially against
Lorenzo, for interference in administering justice, for improper
*Qpere inedite, Flor., 1858, vol. ii. In a recent number of the
Edinburgh Review this passage is cited, but we had inserted it in our
work a year or more before.